Every person, I believe, wants to make a difference in his or her community. But where does one begin? How does one go about giving back for a life they have been richly blessed with? For me, that journey started seven years ago arriving in Dalton, Georgia, from the Chicago, Illinois, area.
As a teenager, I heard a quote from President Ronald Reagan. He stated, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
That quote has stayed with me through the years, and I knew northwest Georgia was my place to help that someone.
I think the best way to help someone is to give a hand up rather than a handout, and this is why I am so proud to be part of the United Way of Northwest Georgia. We strive to be the preferred organization investing in education, basic needs and health in our community. We team up with 23 community partners to make sure our community will have the right tools and programs in place to help every person that might need a hand up in northwest Georgia. Some of our community partners are very familiar to you: the Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity and The Salvation Army. We also partner with Boehm Birth Defects Center, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Family Support Council, Meals on Wheels and many more.
Our community is fantastic, and I love saying I now call northwest Georgia home. This community far exceeds my expectations each year with our generous financial donations and volunteering. You know that United Way sees the needs of our community and works to meet those needs in the most efficient and effective way.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as United Way’s 2019 board chair. I’m happy to say I see the difference daily. With our simple mission of Improving lives, inspiring donors and uniting community, we were able to serve more than 279 people with counseling or therapy, 671 were children enrolled in high-quality child care and 2,904 people were provided with housing assistance. I could go on and on, but the facts are United Way of Northwest Georgia impacted 55,109 lives here in our community. We raised $4.1 million in 2018 and had 2,989 volunteers who gave 20,973 hours. I’m excited to see the final results for 2019. None of this would have been possible without you!
Your gift, your time or your money does not have to be huge. Little things make a difference. Five dollars a week would provide one youth with the opportunity to participate in leadership development programs. A few hours a year volunteering at United Way or one of our community partners would benefit them greatly.
We offer many different giving societies and volunteer opportunities. Our Young Leaders Society (annual contribution of $365-plus) engages the next generation of philanthropists and volunteers ages 20 to 40. The Women’s Leadership Council (annual contribution of $1,000-plus) is a diverse group of women generous in heart and spirit. Leadership (annual contribution of $1,000-plus) givers join hundreds of like-minded individuals in our community who come together to build better futures. Alexis de Tocqueville Society (annual contribution of $10,000-plus) deepens individual support for United Way’s work on education, basic needs and health, and you can ensure quality of life for generations by endowing your gift to be a part of the Peacock Legacy Society. For volunteer opportunities, please visit volunteernwga.org.
Regardless if you call Dalton home or are earning your living here, know your donations, volunteering and advocating mean everything to our community.
United Way is my why, it is my purpose and I look forward to you joining us as we fight for education, basic needs, and health in our community.
Kim Thames is on the executive committee of the United Way of Northwest Georgia's board of directors.